Contact Center Compliance: How to Mitigate Risk

March 27, 2024 9 min read

Dominic Kent

Dominic Kent


If you leave your contact center exposed to poor governance, lax processes, or insufficient technology, expect fines, reputational damage, and even regulatory action requiring you to stop operating (in extreme circumstances).

Contact center compliance is no light matter. Thankfully, there are several contact center features designed to mitigate these risks and help you stay current with the risks associated with operating in different industries.

In this guide, we introduce the risks and explain how your agents can keep your contact center secure and adhere to compliance guidelines.

Let’s start by getting to know the different types of contact center compliance.

What Are the Different Types of Compliance in Contact Centers?

From HIPAA to PCI DSS to FINRA to non-discrimination compliance, let’s take a look at the different kinds of compliance when it come to contact centers.

HIPAA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

HIPAA isn’t just a best practice for healthcare call centers but a set of governing guidelines that every healthcare business must adhere to.

Therefore, HIPAA applies to contact center operations in the healthcare industry, including all health information providers, clearinghouses, and any niche businesses that conduct certain healthcare transactions electronically.

HIPAA doesn’t apply to:

  • Life insurers
  • Workers’ compensation carriers
  • Most schools and school districts
  • State agencies like child protective service agencies

To adhere to HIPAA compliance, agents must:

PCI DSS: Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard

The PCI DSS is one of those compliance guidelines that applies not only to all contact centers but also to any business that handles credit card payments. 

The PCI DSS dictates that contact center agents must:

There are four levels of PCI DSS your contact center may be subject to that relate to the number of card transactions you process each year:

  • PCI Level 1: six million transactions or more
  • PCI Level 2: one million to six million transactions
  • PCI Level 3: 20,000 to one million transactions
  • PCI Level 4: under 20,000 transactions

👀 Further Reading: Collecting Credit Card Payments Securely with Nextiva’s Advanced IVR

FINRA: Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

If you’re a contact center in the financial services industry, you’ll be subject to FINRA compliance. FINRA states that regulations are “dedicated to protecting investors and safeguarding market integrity in a manner that facilitates vibrant capital markets.”

Firms regulated by FINRA include:

  • Broker–dealer firms
  • Capital acquisition brokers
  • Funding portals

FINRA states that your agents must:

Non-discrimination compliance

Every contact center must adhere to non-discrimination compliance. This ensures that all agents, employers, and businesses don’t cast bias, favor, or judgment based on any of the following factors:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • National origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Genetic information

Non-discrimination compliance requires agents to:

How Contact Center Agents Can Maintain Compliance

On the surface, it seems like maintaining contact center compliance should be easy. But a busy environment or agents who work unmonitored in various locations could expose your business to non-compliance.

Use these four methods to bulletproof your contact center from formal complaints and devastating data breaches.

1. In-depth training sessions

The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. This isn’t just a clever statement from the Greek philosopher Aristotle but a relatable scenario in contact centers.

Providing regular training to agents and supervisors won’t just make sure they’re always up to date on relevant regulations. It’ll also uncover areas of weakness and uncertainty. For example, if you exceed your transaction limit and are now subject to a new PCI level, a supervisor may flag this and communicate it to the group.

Banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs invest in compliance training to ensure that employees understand financial regulations, applicable laws, and other industry-specific compliance requirements. These all help them adhere to a variety of contact center compliance guidelines and avoid massive penalties.

Likewise, new agents may be unsure about certain terms that are/aren’t allowed when addressing different customers. Always collect feedback following your training sessions to stay on the ball.

Google states that it offers rigorous compliance training to its employees. These cover areas like:

  • Ethical behavior
  • Legal requirements
  • Company policies

Another area of focus is data security training, which we’ll cover in the next section.

2. Data security

Agents must be familiar with company data security protocols and follow procedures for handling sensitive customer information. These may apply to US laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act or European laws like the General Data Protection Regulation.

Agent protocols and procedures involve confirming caller’s identities and multi-factor authentication for internal tools. 

But some aspects aren’t the responsibility of agents. Contact center management and IT are in charge of:

  • Data masking (e.g., hiding credit card details when customers enter them)
  • Encrypted phone calls (where relevant)
  • Regular compliance audits
  • Formal incident response plans
  • Contact center software updates

Non-compliance with these rules or even a small blip in procedure can lead to significant consequences. Non-adherence to any contact center compliance can carry fines or suspension, even if it only happened once.

3. Customer interactions

When dealing with customers, agents must know what personal data they can and can’t collect or ask for. Asking for phone numbers, bank details, and other personally identifiable information must only happen after you’ve gained explicit consent. 

Note: You need this to adhere to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Even if callers offer these details themselves, your business is responsible for ensuring customer data is retained (with permission) or deleted, as appropriate. You must also pay specific attention to do-not-call lists to avoid impacting customer loyalty when people have opted out, which may include manual entries into CRMs or automatic capture when recording calls. 

At the start of any call or omnichannel interaction (web chat, email, SMS, etc.), agents must verify the customer’s identity before accessing sensitive information. Failure to do so may allow unauthorized parties to access customer accounts and information.

Ensure all call center agents adhere to verification and identification procedures by following a strict quality assurance process.

Call center quality assurance criteria

During calls, ensure agents avoid making discriminatory remarks or offering biased advice. Avoiding these comments should tie into your regular training plans and education initiatives. 

It also pays to keep a list of common phrases that are required in order to maintain contact center compliance.

Here are several examples to consider:

  • “All our calls are recorded for training and monitoring. Is that okay with you?”
  • “Do you agree with us keeping your information on record?”
  • “Is it okay if we use that email address/phone number for marketing purposes?”
  • “Would you like to opt in to receive further updates?”
  • “Do we have permission to use that contact number for billing?”

4. Record keeping

By accurately or automatically documenting customer interactions according to company guidelines, you stand the best chance of having high-quality data and information. Relying on manual data input or agents updating records hours after a call leaves you open to error and misinformation.

When updating existing records, make sure only authorized personnel can make changes to call recordings, transcripts, notes, and other vital information.

If you have specific regulations for data retention, make sure you follow these instructions to the smallest detail. If agents, supervisors, or admins are unaware of even the tiniest bit of information that applies to certain transactions, incorrectly changing a record could have major repercussions.

How Contact Center Technologies Strengthen Compliance

Almost every contact center must abide by some guidelines or governing body. That’s why we see plenty of features that help you stay compliant.

Call recording

Call recording provides a record of interactions for review, ensuring agents followed proper procedures and adhered to regulations. 

You can make evaluating random or targeted calls part of your quality management procedure to make sure agents are using the right scripts, asking customers to pass identity and verification, and pausing recordings when capturing credit card details.

In the screenshot below, see how Nextiva offers a Pause/Resume function to keep you PCI compliant when handling payments.

pause-resume fuction

You can also use call recording for compliance audits and investigations. If there is an incident and you need physical evidence that you adhered to contact center compliance, your call recordings are there to keep you safe.

Disposition tracking

When your agents use disposition codes to flag the type of call, this enforces consistent categorization of calls based on the nature of each customer interaction. Not only is this helpful for knowing why customers are calling you, but it also helps identify areas where compliance might be at risk. 

For example, a high number of abandoned calls in a telemarketing calls setting might raise pressure-selling concerns. When this gets flagged on a disposition report, you can investigate potential issues and get ahead of compliance concerns.

Call recording and speech analytics within the call center.

Agent workflows

Sticking to contact center compliance is simple if agents have a step-by-step process for complex procedures.

Identity and verification procedures at the start of a call could follow a three-step compliance checklist:

  • Ask for the caller’s name and account number
  • Verify the account with a passphrase, address information or phone number
  • Confirm a unique transaction on their account for extra security

These tactics are commonplace when customers forget their online banking password. For example, to verify that a caller is who they say they are, they must confirm the date and amount of one of their last transactions.

Even a process as simple as this reduces the risk of missing crucial compliance steps during calls and ensures consistency in handling sensitive information.

With new and even seasoned agents, it’s not uncommon to see sticky notes, posters, or wall cards with frequently used processes in an office.

Consider using automatic number identification (ANI) to speed up identity verification.

AI-powered coaching and reminders

In the era of contact center AI and automation, there are some simple agent assists you can introduce. An AI assistant can help coach agents through sensitive data handling scenarios and flag reminders when they’re going off script.

AI analyzes call recordings in real time to identify potential compliance issues like using discriminatory language or failing to mention required disclosures. When this happens, agents get an on-screen notification, and AI can inform supervisors so they can take over the call.

AI analyzes call recordings in real time to identify potential compliance issues

After the event, these calls are flagged for review. You can use good and bad calls to train new agents by removing theory and introducing real-world scenarios.

AI-assisted call auditing and recording

AI can also help by scanning call recordings for keywords or phrases that might indicate a compliance violation.

Using sentiment analysis and keyword recognition, you can flag calls for human review, prioritizing high-risk interactions and increasing audit efficiency.

speech analytics

This system removes the strain and potential for human error compared to manually checking call recordings, freeing up human reviewers to focus on complex cases.

It also comes with the bonus of tracking the customer experience. When callers use words indicating high emotion or stress, it can help you detect calls that need to be monitored for compliance reasons.

Maintain Compliance With Nextiva’s Secure Platform

Training, record keeping, and constant learning are crucial to maintaining contact center compliance.

Without these in place, you could be opening yourself up to more risks than you bargained for. 

Contact center platforms like Nextiva provide secure and reliable communications to every customer regardless of industry.

We limit some functionality for HIPAA-compliant accounts to protect private patient data. This helps businesses stay in compliance without making any changes.

In recent times, we’ve adjusted the following features:

  • Visual voicemail: disabled
  • Nextiva App: disabled voicemail replay functionality
  • Voicemail to email or text: disabled
  • vFAX: disabled functionality allowing the sending of faxes from an email (you can still view incoming faxes using a secure email link or by logging into your portal)

Nextiva also executes a Business Associate Agreement that addresses our covered services and states the privacy, security, and breach notification rules required for business associates under HIPAA.

Thanks to advanced call recording, our robust feature set also enables PCI DSS compliance. You can record all calls for training and monitoring and use the Pause/Resume function so card details aren’t recorded.

You can add specific data security measures and agent workflows because of our intuitive interactive voice recognition builder, ANI, and plenty of other features designed to keep you on track.

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Dominic Kent


Dominic Kent

Dominic Kent is a content marketer specializing in unified communications and contact centers. After 10 years of managing installations, he founded UC Marketing to bridge the gap between service providers and customers. He spends half of his time building content marketing programs and the rest writing on the beach with his dogs.

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